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Congress

Election-Related Cell Phone Use On The Rise

December 23, 2010

More than a quarter of U.S. adults used their cell phones to either learn or participate in this year's midterm elections, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

"Mobile connectivity has become a growing feature in all kinds of communication and information exchanges--including politics--and mobile connectivity is becoming a regular feature of political campaigns," according to the survey's report.

Among those who said they had used their cell phone for an election-related activity, most (14 percent) used it to tell others they had voted, 12 percent used their phone to monitor election or political news, and 10 percent sent text messages related to the election to friends, family members or others. Despite the promise of mobile technology as a new avenue to reach out to voters, only 1 percent used a cell phone app to get updates from a candidate or interest group about the election or to contribute to a candidate or interest group.

Those most likely to use their cell phone to learn about or participate in the 2010 election were between the age of 18 and 29, African American and male. The survey found 29 percent of men surveyed, 39 percent of 18-29 year olds, and 36 percent of blacks used their cell phones for some election-related activity. In addition, the survey found those most likely to use their phone for this activity were also college-educated and made more than $75,000 a year.

While 82 percent of U.S. adults have cell phones, 71 percent of cell owners surveyed said they voted in the 2010 elections. This is a much higher percentage than the overall 40 percent turnout rate reported for the midterm election.

The survey was conducted Nov. 3-24 of 2,257 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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